Cincinnati @ San Francisco
Cincinnati hasn’t been impressive as of late. Carson Palmer threw 2 picks and 0 TD’s a week ago against the Rams. But the Bengal’s were able to run the ball at will, for 192 yards. This week will be a much bigger challenge, as the 49ers run defense is better than St Louis, and the 49ers weakness on defense is their secondary. So this week, start your 49er cornerbacks, as the Bengals passing game is likely to exploit this weakness.
San Francisco backup Qb Trent Dilfer was terrible a week ago, and left the game as a result. This week, if he starts, he will likely help the defense more than his own team. The 49ers need to run the ball to have any success, thus the Bengal’ LB’s should be solid IDP options, as well as S Dexter Jackson.
Tennessee @ Kansas City
Tennessee has its eye on the post season, but has no room for error with a 7-6 record in the AFC. The Titans dominated the Chargers last week for 3 and a half quarters, then fell apart at the end of the game, and as a result gave the game away. This week, the Chiefs will not be as fortunate, and the Titans will be running the ball and the clock away in the 2nd half. LB Donnie Edwards and SS Ben Pollard should be very productive in run support.
Kansas City can’t get to week 17 soon enough. After last weeks 41-7 thrashing from the Bronco’s, the Chiefs are 4-9 with nothing to play for. TE Tony Gonzales is their most explosive weapon on offense, so Tennessee will use their LB’s and safeties to keep him in check. This week’s best IDP plays for Tennessee are LB David Thornton and DL Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Buffalo @ Cleveland
Buffalo welcomed back rookie RB Marshawn Lynch last week, and he was very involved in the game plan with 107 yards on 23 carries. This will likely be the game plan this week, shrink the game, and keep the Browns offense off the field. As a result, starting LB Leon Williams and S Sean Jones is the smart play.
Cleveland is in a must win situation as well. The Browns won a week ago over the struggling Jets, and won with balance. RB Jamal Lewis was left for dead in Baltimore and has surprised many with his play in Cleveland. This balance will keep the Buffalo D off balance, and force the safeties to cheat up to stop the run. DL Aaron Schobel is probably the safest play of the week for Buffalo.
Green Bay @ St Louis
Green Bay continues to keep the pressure on Dallas to win, as they keep winning. The Packers ran the ball 36 times last week, and Favre only threw 23 times. This is one of the few times the Packers have run more than pass. Expect more of the same kind of balance this week, as the Rams have struggled stopping the run. But that doesn’t mean anyone should sit LB Will Witherspoon.
The Rams have QB issues, OL issues, and are welcoming the Packers to town this week. This could be a painful combo for Rams fans. The OL isn’t opening up many holes for RB Steven Jackson, and certainly isn’t keeping opposing defenses off which ever QB is lining up behind center. Expect a huge statistical day from DL Aaron Kampman.
Baltimore @ Miami
Baltimore is coming off another loss, this time to the Colts. But their coach got the vote of confidence this week from the Ravens ownership group. The Baltimore D took another major hit with the loss of CB Chris McCallister, but it isn’t likely Miami has the weapons to make the Ravens pay. Top Ravens IDP this week are LB Ray Lewis and DL Terrell Suggs.
Miami is still winless and have lost their best players on each side of the ball, RB Ronnie Brown and LB Zach Thomas. The Dolphins have very little in terms of weapons on either side of the ball. Though S Jason Allen has been a pleasant surprise and DL Jason Taylor is still giving it his all.
NY Jets @ New England
The Jets lost yet again, and are now 3-10 on the season. They have changed QB’s, but that hasn’t helped in the win column. They have upgraded their LB corps with David Harris starting, but that hasn’t helped them in the win column. And now the Patriots come to town. The Jets will be forced to throw the ball to keep up with New England, and the NE secondary is probably the only decent plays as a result.
The only thing that will keep this game close is the elements, which did so against the Ravens a few weeks back. Everyone knows about spy gate and the relationship between the two head coaches, but the players want to vindicate their coach and their past titles as well. So expect another Patriot blow out, and for the Jets secondary to be torched. But the Jets corner backs are very strong plays this week.
Arizona @ New Orleans
Saints safety Josh Bullocks was injured in pre game warm ups on Monday night and did not play last week against the Falcons, but he should be a go this week. DB Roman Harper was in jeopardy of losing his job coming into last week, but played well and probably saved his position for at least another week. The only viable options for the Saints D are DE Will Smith, and their safeties.
The Saints look to have lost RB Reggie Bush for the rest of the regular season, and will pass even more than they usually do, which is a scary thought for the Cardinals secondary. Obviously in this situation, CB Roderick Hood and CB Antrel Rolle are strong starts, but LB Karlos Dansby can be productive with limited opportunities so he should also make your starting lineup.
Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh
Jacksonville heads into this game with a big win over Carolina, but they get an angry dog this week in Pittsburgh. The Jaguars must stick to their game plan of pounding the rock, if they have any chance of winning this week. But Jacksonville knows Pittsburgh also wants to run the ball, and better be prepared for that as well. LB Justin Durant continues to start for injured Mike Peterson.
Pittsburgh has to be fuming the way they played last week, especially after the guarantee from one of their back up safeties. DB Troy Polamalu should return this week, but he is still listed as questionable at the moment. The Pittsburgh D is going from one extreme, the NE Patriots passing offense last week, to the Jaguars running attack this week. Pitt LB James Harrison was used to rush the QB almost every down last week, thus his production was done, but that should change this week.
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay
Atlanta suffers yet another loss, and this time it isn’t just in their game. The Atlanta HC Bobby Petrino bailed on his team with 3 games to go, to go back to college football. Petrino is everything that is wrong with coaching these days. He jumped at the first chance he had to take a better job, even if it meant less money. Not finishing this season out was as bad a decision as any coach could make. The Buc’s IDP players wont have many opportunities this week, because of the ineffective play of the Falcons offense. That being said, it’s very difficult to bench LB Derrick Brooks.
Tampa Bay leads its division by 2 games, but can’t get to far away from the task at hand. The Buc’s should have QB Jeff Garcia playing in this weeks game, but RB Earnest Graham figures to get the bulk of the work offensively for the Tampa Bay. The top 2 defensive players this week look to be LB Michael Boley and possibly LB Keith Brooking.
Seattle @ Carolina
Seattle has clinched the NFC West, but is still hoping to improve its post season seeding between now and the playoffs, so its likely their starters will play all 4 quarters. Seattle needs to get RB Shaun Alexander on track or their season will likely be one and done in the playoffs. This heavy load of the running game, will likely make LB Jon Beason and S Chris Harris top performers at their position this week.
Carolina is so bad on offense, WR Steve Smith has stopped complaining. Its like even he knows there is nothing that can be done this year to fix their offensive woes. But with the score probably getting out of hand early, its WR Steve Smith that is likely to be the main weapon in the offensive game plan. As a result, the Seattle secondary is likely to shine again, the way CB Marcus Trufant did a week ago, with 3 INT , one returned for a TD.
Indianapolis @ Oakland
Indianapolis is starting to get their weapons back, and they look to be peaking at the perfect time of the season. Peyton Manning threw 4 TD passes last week, and Addai had 3 TDs of his own. This kind of balance will be a nightmare for the Raiders defense. The best advice is to start LB Kirk Morrison, and only use anyone else unless if you have no other choices.
Oakland plans on playing their #1 overall pick much of this week’s game. QB JaMarcus Russell has a huge arm, and can brush off wood be tacklers, but it’s unsure how well he can lead his team. Either way, don’t you just want to see if Bob Sanders can bring this mountain of a QB down.
Philadelphia @ Dallas
Philadelphia was blown out in their first match up with the Cowboys, but in this rivalry any given Sunday is said for a reason. The Eagles have to use Brian Westbrook to keep the Dallas defense off balance, so Donovan isn’t a sitting duck in the pocket. Though McNabb seems to be healthier than he was in the first meeting, its crucial his OL gives him the protection to play pitch and catch with the Eagle receivers. Dallas DB Roy Williams continues to play sparingly, as he comes out on obvious passing downs. LB Demarcus Ware is a great play this week because of his ability to get to the QB at any given time.
The Dallas offense will see one of two things from the Philadelphia defense. Pressure or only rushing 3, playing 8 in coverage. The Eagles cannot line up in their base defense and stop the Boys offense. As a result, the Dallas offense will have to be patient and burn the blitz when it comes. Eagles LB Omar Gaither is playing solid and should be a factor stopping the running game. Also CB Lito Sheppard will have the task of covering Terrell Owens.
Detroit @ San Diego
Detroit played well enough to win last week, but the missed FG midway through the 4th quarter, and LB Paris Lenon trying to pick up a fumble and run with it, instead of just diving on the ball, cost Detroit a win. Detroit came out running the football last week, and few, including the Cowboys saw that coming. One would think without Charger LB Shawne Merriman this week, Detroit should have more time to throw, which is what OC Mike Martz loves to do.
San Diego was very lucky a week ago, being outplayed the way they were for 3 plus quarters, only to win in OT. But the game plan is clearly established now in San Diego. Run LT right, Run LT left, and Run LT up the middle. LT is the cog that makes the Charger offense go. In the situation, Detroit LB Ernie Sims should have another huge statistical game.
Washington @ NY Giants
Washington won a stinker last Thursday night, where they lost their QB Jason Campbell. Backup QB Todd Collins came in, and moved the offense, but teams now have film on him, so that success could be short lived. The Redskins would love nothing more than to hang their hat on the running game, and play strong defense and hope Eli makes a mistake late that turns the game.
The Giants are holding on to a playoff berth, if they can just win the remaining winnable games, outside of getting pounded by New England the final week of the season. The Giants will definitely attempt to run the ball, and Washington S Laron Landry should be a solid play, as should LB London Fletcher stopping the run. LB Rocky McIntosh has been a blitzing LB, which has caused his tackle totals to slip as of late.
Chicago @ Minnesota
Chicago is starting 3rd string QB Kyle Orton this week, after the injury to Rex Grossman last Thursday night. The Bears clearly want to see what they have in the young signal caller, as its obvious Grossman isn’t the future. Orton was very successful a few seasons ago, but he wasn’t asked to win games. This time he may have to, if the Bears have any shot at beating Minnesota.
Minnesota is one of the hotter teams in the NFC, and is becoming the trendy pick to make some noise in the playoffs. Their QB has played better than anyone could have thought after the Dallas debacle. A strong running game, makes those play action fakes work. RB Adrian Peterson was held to less than 10 yards a week ago, so he will definitely be chomping at the bit to get back on track. Bears S Brandon McGowan has been starting in place of Adam Archuleta in the Bears secondary, and that doesn’t look to be changing this week.